Transcript of remarks to the press on Syria (humanitarian)
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Remarks to the press by Australian Ambassador to the United Nations, HE Mr Gary Quinlan, following Security Council consultations on the humanitarian situation in Syria
QUESTION: Can we get an update on where the draft resolution is at? I believe it has been circulated to the P5 and there might be some discussions tomorrow.
AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: We've begun finalising it, let me put it that way. I won't comment on the process in terms of when there will be meetings and all the rest of it – but we wanted to wait until today to see what further ideas came up, of course, from the Secretariat itself with an update of the Secretary-General's report and then what kind of response there was in the room to the idea that, in fact, we had begun drafting a resolution and intend to circulate it broadly very quickly. So we'll now take that into account overnight and see where we go. But I think you can expect very quick action from the three co-authors.
And, the mood in the room – obviously this is the starkest report we've had from the Secretary-General and he actually directly says to the Council, you need to take action. Effectively that's what he says and he's right, of course. Because, as he says very bluntly, the situation has gotten worse, not better. They're his exact words. This is the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
QUESTION: Actually, on sovereignty, I think his language in this report is new as well, about cross-border…
AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Yes, he makes the very valid point that when people talk about sovereignty…with sovereignty goes responsibility – responsibility to your own citizens. This is the responsibility to protect, broadly defined, but it's a responsibility to look after your own citizens. And here we have a situation where the Government of Syria has a military strategy which is directly targeting civilians, its own people. That's through aerial bombardments, as you know, barrel bombs, starvation as a technique of war, sieges, the denial of medical supplies, removal of medical supplies from convoys and the manipulation of aid so that it only goes – 90% of the aid goes to Government-held areas. It's not getting across conflict lines to Syrians who live in zones which are controlled by the opposition. Now all of that is deliberately against the interests and needs of your own civilians, so the Secretary-General makes it very clear.
QUESTION: Are you sensing that Russia will be willing to engage on this? I mean, they've made it pretty clear that they're against hospital access…
AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Let's not anticipate – I'm not going to speculate on what individual countries reactions will be.
QUESTION: When do you expect the vote to take place?
AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: If there is a vote – you're assuming there would need to be a vote. 2139 – the resolution we're talking about – in February was adopted by consensus. Obviously we would be working towards a consensus resolution if that is possible. But we're going to be serious about it.
QUESTION: Why would you wait until June when Russia will take the Presidency of the Council?
AMBASSADOR QUINLAN: Look, I'm not going to speculate on timings or anything else. And we shouldn't anticipate what other people's reactions might be. People did in February and they were wrong.